I have spent numerous hours designing a wonderful large room for a client. The lighting in the room is awful, and without a source of natural light, the room appears dark and dismal. Even though we chose light colors and fabric, brightening up this room is a real challenge. Are there some suggestions for lighting options to make this room come to life?
The answer to your problem may be to work various types of wall lighting into your design and add highlights to your room scheme.
Walls that are lighted will expand space visually. You have a choice to either emphasize a particular texture on a wall or window treatment or give it a very soft effect. Each style of wall lighting will create a different look or atmosphere in the room, depending on what the client needs or wants. Some examples include:
• Fluorescent wall lighting will create a soft, diffused light. This lighting works well in living and dining areas, bedrooms or family rooms and can be achieved by hiding the strips of light behind a shielding board.
• Valance lighting can be custom or ready-made. This type of lighting can be directed upward or downward, depending on the effect desired. Usually, this lighting is more informal in character.
• Cornice lighting works as downlighting, directing light on draperies, curtains or wall murals. The effect is an intimate setting that's versatile enough to use in traditional, contemporary, informal and formal interiors.
• Wall brackets will provide both downward and upward lighting on the wall and ceiling. Use this style of lighting to enhance each side of a custom window treatment. Whether it is contemporary or traditional, the lighting will make your work look professional and complete. Mounting the brackets lower on the wall will provide activity lighting for more informal settings. Custom or ready-made wall brackets are available at many lighting stores.
Incandescent wall lighting uses recessed or track-mounted ceiling lighting. Some examples of this type of lighting include:
•Trough lighting, which is usually track-mounted using small reflector bulbs that are hidden behind a board. This system also may be recessed in the ceiling. Texture is more pronounced and dramatized for an intimate effect on the room.
•Wall washers are used to light a wall in a balanced manner from the top to the bottom de-emphasizing the texture on a wall or fabric and softening the room.
•Open reflector downlights will create a scalloped pattern on the wall and draw attention to texture. This type of lighting can be either recessed or track- or surface-mounted. You can use this lighting as a design element within the room, however, be aware how you use open reflectors as they can take emphasis away from another element that you want to remain highlighted.
Wall lighting is an excellent way to emphasize the focal point in a room, whether it is a dramatic window treatment, artwork or a specific area in the room. Wall lighting also will add light to a room to brighten and create a mood, even when a room has no natural lighting from the outside. Remember the finishing touch of lighting and impress your clients with your designs by illuminating and drawing attention to specific elements--texture, color, accents, accessories--and make your designs perform as you intended.
Editor's Note: This is a continuing series of articles written by Sharon L. Anderson which will answer some of the many questions we receive at Draperies & Window Coverings, as well as questions Anderson has encountered in her own business. If you have a question you would like Anderson to address, please send it to: DesignSolutions@DWCdesigNET.com
Sharon L. Anderson, Associate Member, Interior Design Educator's Council (IDEC), has more than 14 years experience as a commercial and residential design professional. She has taught numerous courses at colleges and universities throughout Southern California and is a published author and frequent public speaker.